By Don Lowe
Saying Larry Whiteley, a well-known conservationist, and outdoor journalist throughout the Show Me State and the entire country, was completely surprised upon learning he’d be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is an understatement.
When he officially received the news, Whiteley didn’t believe it, while recalling his initial reaction as being, “I think my first words were ‘you’re kidding.’
“When he (Missouri Sports Hall of Fame President and Executive Director Jerald Andrews) told me he wasn’t kidding, I said ‘I’m not sure I am deserving, but I am honored and humbled.’”
Although Whiteley might not necessarily consider all he’s done as being Hall of Fame worthy, his resumé is quite impressive.
Back in 1976, Whiteley started hosting an outdoor broadcast radio show called The Great Ozarks Outdoors on KTTS AM & FM. He later hosted an outdoor TV segment on KSPR 33’s local news and started his own outdoor magazine. All of this was done through The Great Ozarks Outdoors, Inc., his family corporation.
In 1990, Whiteley began a 30-plus year association with Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World Radio, which was carried on more than 1,200 stations, including the American Armed Forces Radio Network. He also wrote Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World tips that were read in newspapers and magazines across America.
Whiteley also served as corporate public relations manager for Bass Pro Shops for 23 years. Additionally, his voice was heard in Bass Pro Shops stores across America, as he welcomed customers, told them about special sales and provided outdoor tips.
As if that’s not enough, Whiteley has stayed busy in retirement, writing columns for several print publications, and it all started more than two decades ago when Show Me The Ozarks Magazine Publisher/Editor Lee Radcliff asked him to submit a monthly article to her.
It has grown from there with Whiteley providing columns for Outdoor Guide Magazine (St. Louis), Hook & Barrel Magazine (Dallas), Crappie NOW Online Magazine and Outdoors Unlimited Online Magazines, as well as Phillips Media Weekly Newspapers in Southwest Missouri, plus articles for Share the Outdoors Blog (https://www.sharetheoutdoors.com/tag/larry-whiteley/) and the Conservation Federation of Missouri Magazine.
Whiteley would prefer to deflect the attention away from himself, and he says, “I am not really the kind of guy who is into getting a lot of recognition and notoriety.
“A big deal to me is when someone says that listening to me on the radio or watching me on TV got them into the outdoors, and they passed that on to their kids. Or someone telling me something I wrote touched their heart and reminded them of great memories they had. And they are going to start taking their kids outdoors more.”
Really, Whiteley is most grateful for the award. “Because it gives me more of an opportunity to tell people that I thank God for giving me the gifts He did for me to use to get people into the outdoors He created. I would rather He get the glory and not me.”
Regardless of any success he’s had along the way, as he shared with the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in answering their questions, “I’m not sure I realized it during all the years I’ve been doing it, but as I look back on it now, it has been a blessing to have been able to do all I have done and do it with my family.
“I firmly believe the outdoors helped to shape our kids and grandkids into the fine people they are today.”
Whiteley may have summed it up best, also in his words to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, in saying, “The outdoors is good for your heart and it’s good for your soul. The outdoors can change lives. It has mine.”
Larry Whiteley Fast Facts
Class of 2022 Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Honoree: Was honored Sunday, February 6, at Ozark Empire Fairgrounds
Age: Turned 75 Christmas Day 2021
Spouse: Larry and his wife, Maryann, have been married 52 years
Children and Grandchildren: Son Daron Whiteley and his wife, LaVay, and their son (Larry’s and Maryann’s grandson), Hunter, and his wife, Molly, and their daughter (Larry’s and Maryann’s granddaughter), Anna, who just graduated from Kansas State University. Also, son Kelly Whiteley and his wife, Lexi, with their sons (Larry’s and Maryann’s grandsons), 16-year-old freshman, Ty, and 15-year-old eighth grader, Sam.
Favorite TV Show: Alaska the Last Frontier